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"The Hopeful Project" aims to bring optimism to the Bronx

"The Hopeful Project" aims to bring optimism to the Bronx 07:14

NEW YORK -- After a series of tragic events in the Bronx earlier this year, a retired teacher there wanted to bring some hope to her community.

She reached out to an artist spreading positivity and asked him to shine a light on the Bronx.

"The Hopeful Project" started with just a single lighted sculpture in Portland, Maine -- an illuminated word promoting much-needed optimism.

The artwork by Charlie Hewitt has appeared in locations across the Northeast and is now on view in the Bronx.

Pelham Gardens resident Lisa Watkins says the message could not have come at a better time.

"As a Bronx native, I love my borough, I love the people of my borough. I think we're caring, we're loving, and to see such tragedy back to back to back was a bit much to handle," she said. "Being hopeful is something we could all use in a time of crisis."

Digital "hopeful" signs are now on display at several Bronx subway stops. The idea is to uplift and inspire New Yorkers during their day-to-day routine.

Hewitt joined CBS2's Dana Tyler to talk about the project.

"Lisa's exactly what an artist is looking for in their lives, an audience that really you can touch and get a response back from. As a painter, I can sell a painting to somebody and I rarely ever get a message. This is a kind of thing that's grown outside of my understanding of art. It's teaching me something about community and humanity and feelings and compassion," Hewitt said. "So when Lisa reached out to me through email, I looked at it and I knew right away that this was an angel I had to respond to. This is something that has to be done. And there are sometimes people who ask and you have to address it. My heart goes out to the Bronx and I wanted to contribute somehow."

In the wake of Tuesday's subway attack in Brooklyn, additional "The Hopeful Project" billboards will go up at two Sunset Park subway stations on Monday.

You can view the full interview with Hewitt above.

Visit and for more information about Hewitt and the Hopeful Project

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